| | Advanced Search


Russell Moore: Experience Makes Caprio a No-Brainer for Treasurer—Let's face it: politics is strange business.

Smart Benefits: Two Regs Issued on Contraceptive Coverage—Two regulations on contraceptive coverage were recently issued…

Peace Flag Project to Host Rhode Island Month of Peace in September—The Peace Flag Project will host over 30…

Don’t Miss: Fall Newport Secret Garden Tours—The Benefactors of the Arts will present a…

Fall Activities for the Whole Family—Mark your calendars for the best activities of…

Skywatching: Seagrave Memorial Observatory Centennial (1914-2014)—Skyscrapers, Inc., the Amateur Astronomical Society of Rhode…

Friday Financial Five - August 29, 2014—The Tax Foundation has put together a helpful…

RI Resource Recovery Collected 6K Pounds of Clothes—RI Resource Recovery has received more than 6,000…

5 Live Music Musts - August 29, 2014—We’ve got Rhythm and Roots and a whole…

The Cellar: Late Summer Values—While this week saw some fantastic weather there…


slides: Who’s Giving The Grads Advice This Year?

Saturday, June 01, 2013


Commencement season has kicked off for 2013, with New England Tech traditionally leading the pack with its May 5 ceremonies. In the weekends to come, Rhode Island will be full of grads of all levels, in caps and gowns of all colors, from North Smithfield to Newport. And with these festivals of educational pomp and circumstance, arrive famous speakers and those receiving honorary degrees. So just who is getting capped and gowned on Rhode Island campuses this season? Here's the guide.

Prev Next

Brown University

Sunday, May 26

Commencement speakers: History concentrator Elizabeth Mills, of Washington, D.C., and applied math/biology concentrator Tanayott Thaweethai, of Union City, Calif. are the student speakers traditionally chosen by their classmates. 

Honorary degrees: Benjamin Affleck, actor and director, will receive a Doctor of Fine Arts (D.F.A.); Junot Díaz, author and editor, will receive a Doctor of Letters (Litt.D.); Stanley Falkow, bacteriologist, will receive a Doctor of Science (Sc.D.); Beverly Wade Hogan, president of Tougaloo College, will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.); Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, physician and foundation president, will receive a Doctor of Medical Science (D.M.S.); and Eduardo J. Padrón, president of Miami Dade College, will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.).

Prev Next

New England Tech

Sunday, May 5

Commencement speaker: Basketball legend, author, actor, award-winning film producer and community activist Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (awarded an honorary doctor of humane letters during the ceremony).

Honorary degrees: John Hazen White, Jr., serving as the third generation President of Taco, Incorporated of Cranston, RI, a $200 million manufacturing firm employing more than 500 people, received a Doctor of Human Letters. 

Prev Next


Saturday, June 1

Commencement speaker: Writer and illustrator Maira Kalman, whose children's books including Max Makes a Million, What Pete Ate from A–Z, Looking at Lincoln, 13 Words (with Lemony Snicket) and Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey.

Honorary degrees: Karl Gerstner, a preeminent designer and systems thinker; Bill McKibben, an activist and author who has earned a reputation as one of the world’s leading environmentalists.

Prev Next


Saturday-Sunday, May 18-19

Commencement speaker: Giovanni Feroce ('91), chairman of Alex and Ani, and a retired, United States Army Major who served two tours in Iraq and as an operations officer at U.S. Central Command (will also receive honorary doctorate).

Honorary degrees: Carolyn Rafaelian, the founder of Alex and Ani, who will also share a few words with the graduates. Other Honorary Doctorate degree recipients are Mary Kennard, Esq., Vice President and General Counsel, of American University, who was a former vice president at the University of Rhode Island; Robert A. DiMuccio, Chairman, President, CEO, Amica Mutual Insurance Company; and Franklin Wallace Simon, President, The Simon Companies.

Prev Next


Thursday, May 16 + Saturday, May 18

Commencement speakers: Alan Shawn Feinstein Graduate School Speaker: Ojetta Rogeriee Thompson (pictured here), JD, Circuit Judge, US Court of Appeals for the First District (Recipient, Honorary Doctorate of Science in Criminal Justice Management); College of Culinary Arts and The Hospitality College Speaker: Brian J Foye '85, '88 MBA, President, Seasons 52 of Darden Restaurants (Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration in Restaurant, Food & Beverage Management); John Hazen White School of Arts & Sciences, College of Business and School of Technology Speaker: Steven L. Spinner, President and CEO, United Natural Foods Inc. (Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration in Entrepreneurship). 

Honorary degrees: College of Culinary Arts and The Hospitality College: Alain Ducasse, President and co-founder, Alain Ducasse Enterprise (Honorary Doctorate of Culinary Arts); John Hazen White School of Arts & Sciences, College of Business and School of Technology: Ashbel T. Wall, JD, Director, Rhode Island Department of Corrections (Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration in Criminal Justice). 

Prev Next

Rhode Island College

Thursday, May 16 + Saturday, May 18

Commencement speakers: Graduate commencement speaker, Giovanni Feroce, Alex and Ani CEO (who also received a Doctor of Business Administration); baccalaureate commencement speaker, arts and education patron Marie Elizabeth Petrarca (who also received a Doctor of Humanities). 

Honorary degrees: Graduate commencement  degrees conferred to Educator Donald J. Driscoll (Doctor of Education); cellular technology leader Charles C. Townsend (Doctor of Commercial Science). Baccalaureate commencement degrees conferred to sociologist/clinical psychologist Henry R. Lesieur (Doctor of Science); business leader and philanthropist Robert Horace Petrarca (Doctor of Business Administration).

Prev Next

Providence College

Sunday, May 19

Commencement speaker: The Very Reverend Robert Barron, creator and host of the Catholicism documentary series and founder of a global media ministry, will also receive an honorary doctorate in religious education.

Honorary degrees: Philantrophist Paul J. Birmingham '63 will receive an honorary doctorate in humanitarian service; Vito D. Buonomano, D.D.S. ’53& ’76G will receive an honorary doctorate in public service and Louise J. Buonomano ’76G will receive an honorary doctorate in education; business leader Michael A. Ruane ’71 will receive an honorary doctorate in business administration.

Prev Next

Roger Williams

Friday, May 17-Saturday, May 18

Commencement speaker: Author and historian John M. Barry, who will also receive an honorary degree. On May 17, Morris Dees – a preeminent civil rights attorney and founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center – will deliver the Commencement address and earn an honorary degree at the Roger Williams University School of Law ceremony.

Honorary degrees: Larry Rachleff, accomplished conductor and music director for the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra.

Prev Next

Salve Regina

Sunday, May 19

Commencement speakers: Master stone carvers Nicholas W. Benson and his father John E. Benson, proprietors of Newport's centuries-old John Stevens Shop (they will also recieve honorary degrees).

Prev Next

Bryant University

Thursday, May 16 + Saturday, May 18

Commencement speaker: Historian Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Random House executive editor and executive vice president, who will also receive a doctor of humane letters. Graduate School of Business commencement speaker: Joseph J. MarcAurele, banking leader, who will also receive honorary doctor of business administration.

Honorary degrees: Catherine Bertini, world hunger advocate; Navyn Salem, founder of Edesia Hunger Solutions (honorary doctor of business administration). 


Related Articles


Enjoy this post? Share it with others.

Write your comment...

You must be logged in to post comments.